Created Dignity “Made them Male AND Female”
Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 2:7, 20-25 is the account of God creating man and woman. God created man and woman with differing physical and psychological capacities for distinct purposes and plans that would complement each other and bring unique glory to God. Man was created with strength and he lives out of this as a provider, protector, and leader. Woman, as man’s helpmeet, was created with softness and she lives out of this as a life-giver, nurturer, and friend.
When were you birthed? When were you formed? Was it at the same time? How does God view and what does He have to say about your origin? Jeremiah 1:5 states “Before I formed you in the womb I knew and approved of you as My chosen instrument and before you were born I separated and set you apart…” Ephesians 1:4 “Even as in His love He chose us…actually picked us out for Himself as His own in Christ before the foundation of the world.” 2 Timothy 1:9 “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling; not according to our works, BUT according to His own purpose and grace which was GIVEN US in Christ Jesus BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN!!” Our spirit, who we are in our deepest identity, was created before our physical origin. God knew us in absolute perfection, purity, and purpose. There were no blemishes or blunderings in our original intent and identity in God. What powerful truth that our existence was birthed in the heart of God before the existence of sin, sorrow, and self! All earthly existence bows to the eternal, spiritual existence that God knew, loved, planned, and cherished us before the foundation of the world.
No wonder the Psalmist said, “How precious and weighty are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them? God—You blow my mind!! To think that I was birthed in Your heart before sin, shame, and sorrow ever were realities!!” Psalm 139:14-18 speaks of our deepest identity in the heart of God. God does not identify us by who we are and what has happened to us in our earthly journey. Yes, He has designed and chosen and allowed our “earth living,” He has plans and purposes for it, but it is not our deepest identity to Him.
The truth is that God created each of us women with the same desire and passion that He created Eve. Though she is the “mother of all living,” it is not that she has a special interest to God above any other woman that has been birthed into this world. God is as passionate about you, sees you with complete dignity and femininity, as He did Eve. To live out of true dignity is to know my place in the heart of God, not in arrogant superiority nor in insulted inferiority, but in humble awareness of how God knows me. In this reality we have the capacity to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves.
It is a high calling and honor to be a godly woman clothed with dignity and strength in our day as much as any time in history. God is still passionate that we embrace and live out of His created desire and design for us as woman in our generation. Our femininity remains precious and honorable to God and continues to define the deepest core of who we are. Our delicate and vulnerable make-up is not a result of the fall; it was designed by the passionate heart of God who longed to reveal Himself in tender and gentle ways. It is not something to shame and contempt and cover. It is something to embrace and honor and display for the glory of God. We must own the reality that in our fallen culture masculinity and femininity are being attacked, mocked, and confused. They say they are redefining genders, but the truth is they are perverting genders. These perversions have not changed the heart of God about genders and their unique purposes. We have the privilege to live out these realities like never before.
Bearing the Glory of God
God created us in His image and in this we received the greatest mission ever given to man: to bring glory to God!! We were God’s creative expression of Himself and He was delighted. There was accurate perception in our feelings (emotions), complete truth in our thought processes (minds), and freedom in our responses (will). Therefore we were able to bring all of our created capacities into our relationships. There were no defects or deficiency in appearance, morals, will, mind, and emotions. God looked upon them and said, “It is very good.” God saw the image of Himself in man and woman. God was pleased, very pleased.
So, what does this mean to us as woman? When God designed woman, He designed us with the capacity to love beauty, caress softness, nurture gentleness, and live creatively. We are life-givers (bear children and bring dignity to others) and nurtures (host people in our hearts.) We were able to respond to God and man in pure delight, trust, and dignity. Man and woman communicated in an open freedom, in open nakedness, and there was no shame. Imagine an existence of no fear, contempt, mistrust, doubting, or manipulation!! Woman bore the image of God in His completeness of gentleness, creativity, and nurturing. There were no character flaws, no awkward moments, no perversion, no shame or embarrassment, and no flirting or flaunting. There was no sin nor sorrow to shut down the heart, therefore, woman was at rest and lived each day in full dignity with God and man.
What would it be like to be totally at rest with who we are and how we are individually designed, and to enjoy being life-givers in absolute freedom??? What if we always felt safe and affirmed and loved??? What if we could love well with no jealousy, shame, contempt, or impurity to contaminate or interfere that love??? What if there were no lies or fears to deceive our hearts??? What if we could live to the fullest of all that God designed women to be??? (O God—RESTORE to us the JOY of YOUR salvation/CREATION!!!)
The Assault of Satan
Satan, who had defied his Creator and was cast out of heaven, longed to revenge God. His perverted passion was to steal the glory from God. After his failure to dethrone God in heaven, he now appeared to God’s crowning creation on earth. The reason he attacks us is, not because he so hates us as he despises anything that reminds him of God. Since we are created in the image of God, we remind him of God and therefore he wants to strip us of God’s glory. He avenges God by assaulting man. John 10:10 states the truth about Satan and his agenda, “the thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” This reality is affirmed in Revelation 12:10, “for the accuser of the brethren is cast down, which accused them before God both day and night.” Satan wants to use the people in your life and the things that have happened to you to create lies about God and His heart for you. His goal is to make God your enemy.
Satan had access to the man and woman in the garden through temptation. It was here that Eve opened her heart to a voice other than her Creator, and yielded to the seduction of Satan. She turned from loyalty to God, and her husband Adam joined her in the lust of temptation. Immediately a change took place in her heart. No longer was she free from sin, shame, and sorrow. Therefore depravity entered her heart, smothering her dignity and gave evil opportunity to destroy God’s glory in her. She was no longer free to welcome the voice and presence of God nor her vulnerability with her husband. Hardness of heart and a fear of her femininity were birthed in the core of who she was. This was her battle for the rest of her days.
Sin, sorrow, and shame have entered the heart and experience of every woman since. We battle fears or realities of rejection, suppression, abandonment, powerlessness, betrayal, and confusion because of the curse. Sin, my actions and attitudes the deflect the glory of God, and sorrows, my wounds and losses from violations against me, now define who I am. Instead of living in complete dignity we are enslaved to our depravity, which is a nature that assaults God and serves ourselves. We forget “Whose we are and Who we serve.”
Conviction and Condemnation
God designed us with complete dignity in our hearts. When man and woman sinned and defied the glory of God, depravity entered their hearts. Every person since has been birthed into this fallen world with both realities at war in our hearts; the dignity of our created glory and depravity of our fallen nature. We all have to battle the two voices with in us: conviction and condemnation. The voice of conviction comes from God with truth about Himself, ourselves, and our redemption. Condemnation comes from Satan with lies about God, ourselves, and our hopelessness. The voice of conviction is identified as exposure to restore the glory of God, while the voice of condemnation is exposure to destroy the glory of God.
In our sinfulness, God comes to us with the voice of conviction to expose our dignity and our depravity. He tells us truth about Himself and his heart for us and the beauty with which He created us and His hope for our redemption. He tells us the truth of our sinfulness and we are left naked and open before Him. Conviction is the awareness of the foolishness of our darkened minds and the sinful deeds of our selfish wills. In our fallenness we hide, cover, and disown our sinfulness. Conviction of sinfulness brings true shame and guilt that tells us we are sinners and in need of a Savior. Conviction also brings the incredible realities of God and His heart for redemption. In this reality, we either turn to God for salvation or turn from our Redeemer and increase our depravity.
Satan comes to us in the voice of condemnation, in which he lies to us about the glory and authority of God. He entices us by drawing our hearts into lust. He confirms our depravity by inviting us to believe we are not so bad or that we are too wretched; we can redeem ourselves or we are too hopeless; we will always be bound or we can live as we wish without consequences, etc. He takes the sins committed against us to mock, to silence, and to increase the shame of our created glory. The voice of Satan can always be identified as the voice of condemnation for it mocks the glory of God and offers a self-focus. When we are sinned against, we are left with a condemnation of our created glory, which increases the damage done to our hearts, increases confusion of conviction and condemnation, which increases the work to have our dignity restored.
Shame is the exposure of my sins and sorrows which leaves me feeling naked, undone, deficient, and guilty. It is the horrible awakening that I am perceived as deficient, inadequate, and undesirable by someone I hoped would deeply enjoy me. It is the intense emotion of being caught unawares with no dignity to offer which results from my loss of innocence, self-righteousness, or personhood. True shame is the conviction from God that I have sinned and I am trying to be my own god. I should feel shame when I do not worship and love the Lord with all my heart and when I hurt another person. False shame is the condemnation from the insults and injuries of others’ sins leaving me wounded, raw, and worthless. It is the voice of worthlessness, stupidity, and undesirability. False shame mocks the voice of conviction and is a powerful tool to destroy the glory of God by offering no hope to escape the wretchedness that I feel. It wants to bind me to the felt perception that I am disgusting and ruined in the eyes of my offender and that I look foolish in the eyes of other people. (Example: Hannah—1 Samuel 1:6-18; David—1 Samuel 17:26-29)
Contempt is the act of despising, disdaining, disrespecting, scorning or scoffing of oneself or another. It is the shield we use to protect our hearts from feeling shame, pain, longing, helplessness, or guilt. In contempt we become desperate to make another pay for the shame we experience, whether it is legitimate or illegitimate. The heart attitude and the natural, sinful responses to the experience of being shamed comes from our contemptuous effort to deflect the eyes of our Creator and a refusal to humble ourselves to reach out and receive the grace and glory of God. Contempt is the cold blast of condemnation directed against our perceived source of shame. It smothers life-giving sorrow and deflects the conviction of the Spirit of God. It gives us a feeling of control instead of bringing us to recognize our need of a Savior. There are many faces to contempt. It can be displayed in arrogant superiority or haunting inferiority. It can be intense hatred toward others or an internal despising of ourselves. It is our subconscious reaction to not feel shame. Contempts vow: “I will not hurt again. I will create for myself a better world and a better god.” (Example: Goliath—1 Samuel 17)
Covers are the “fig leaves” under which we hide the shame and contempt we experience in our hearts. They are our false identities and securities we trust to define who we are and defend what we do. It is our self-defined proof that we are not inadequate, undesirable, or sinful persons. Covers motivate us to perform in unhealthy ways or to perform in healthy ways with unhealthy motives. We will use legitimate and illegitimate things to keep us from dealing with the real issues of our hearts. Legitimate coverings are often used by the pious and spiritual hypocrite or hurting. They are things that in themselves are good and wholesome, but are used as false attempts to cover the sin and sorrow of our lives. Illegitimate coverings are the blatant acts of sin which are often found in the hard and careless heart. Daily we are driven by the question of “What must I have/do in order to survive?” Everyday living requires our energies to answer “What keeps me appearing safe, accepted, and worthy in my own eyes and in the eyes of those I want approval?” Someone may appear sweet, safe, and satisfied, but underneath is hidden shame that drives one to live with a mask and false front. On the other hand, someone lives in defiance and boldness, but underneath is the driven desire to not feel the shame and pain of one’s sins or sorrows.
Freedom at the Cross
What is the answer to shame, contempt, and performance? Or is it an endless cycle that we must suppress until the day we are redeemed from this fallen world? Hallelujah—the fall of man did not leave God without a battle plan!! The incredible truth is redemption, as well as creation, was birthed and purposed in the heart of God before the foundation of the world!! Our sins and sorrows are did not take God unaware; our salvation is not an after-thought to Him either. 1 Peter 1:18-20 states, “You must know and recognize that you were redeemed and purchased with the precious blood of Christ…for He was chosen and foreordained before the foundation of the world.” It is also confirmed in Titus 1:2, “Resting in the hope of eternal life which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world began.” There is nothing, absolutely nothing nor anybody that is too difficult for God and that cannot be redeemed through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Satan has been a loser ever since he rose up against God and all his tactics to destroy the glory of God are rendered powerless in the reality of the cross!!! All that thrills my heart is Jesus!! There is power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb!!
Because of the cross and the empty tomb, we have every reality of Jesus Christ, to be redeemed of EVERY sin and sorrow!! We do not need to live in the grip of Satan’s traps of shame, contempt, and covers. Isaiah 53:4, 5 says, “Surely, He, Jesus, hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him, stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His strips we are healed.” In our fallen and depraved world, we have One Who has come to redeem us. We need to go to the cross for cleansing from our sin and for comfort for our sorrow. If we do not go to the cross for redemption in our shame, we will go to contempt and covers for self-redemption, thus adding sin to sin or sin to sorrow. JESUS TOOK MY SINS AND SORROWS; He and made them His very own. He bore my burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone!! What a Friend we have in Jesus—ALL OUR SINS AND GRIEFS to bear. What a privilege to carry EVERYTHING to God in prayer!!
When shame comes find its source and why it is affecting you so deeply. Ask heart-searching questions to yourself and to other trusted people. Seek truth and God. If falling short of the glory of God shames us and drives us to humbly seek mercy, cleansing, and restoration, then we have accepted true shame as a gift from God and will be freed from the guilt and disgrace we feel. We are freed from false shame as we allow God to define us with His truth, pursue us with His love, and cloth us with His dignity. In the attacks against our dignity and depravity we flee to the cross to find a covering in the blood and love of Jesus instead of fleeing to contempt to find covering in our “fig leaves.”
Contempt’s redemption is experienced as we are willing to face our sin and sorrow. We will surrender the demand to revenge the shame of our exposures and allow our hearts to sorrow and grieve our own sins and the sins done against us. We will choose sorrow over hurting ourselves and others, over creating a better world and a better god. Sorrow opens the heart and allows it to feel and be alive. The heart that sorrows will turn to Jesus and be comforted and cleansed by Him. The heart that grieves can also sing. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The bitter and arrogant spirit will be transformed to a spirit of blessing and humility. Our hearts that once responded with contempt will now be able to respond with compassion.
Freedom from the bondage of covers comes when we turn from our idolatress trust in our “fig leaves” to hide our sins and sorrows. We will We have every reality of Jesus Christ, allow God to strip us of all that we define as security, worth, and competence. The surrender of “what I must have/do in order to survive” releases us from the demands we put on ourselves, others, and God to perform for our security and salvation. It leaves us with open hearts and hands to receive the identity and security God designs and desires for us. We will trust God to own us as His daughters, cloth us with His righteousness, and give us dignity in everyday living. In this reality we will have life and life more abundantly, to offer to the people in our lives.Fighting Our Battle
So how do we as woman literally fight our battle of regaining and maintaining our femininity? What is the battle plan that we need in order to fight the distortions, deceptions, and dysfunctions we face as fallen woman? How can we feel, think, and choose rightly in this fallen world with all the corruption that is daily confronting us? How can we help others perceive their battles, discern truth and error, and make wise and wholesome choices? How do we restore glory in our own hearts and the hearts of those entrusted to us?
When God made woman, with all her perceptions and intuition, He did not design her to be complicated and contemptible but to be creative and compatible. Sin has destroyed and sorrow has distorted this truth and we are vulnerable to contempting our femininity. We are vulnerable to view submission as suppression, nurturing as a nuisance, and friendships as frightening. Our created intuition as woman wants to interpret the vibes we get from others to be our source of identity and security. We can believe we are “too much” or “not enough; “I am not worth anything” or “people put too many demands on me”; “I am ugly” or “no one notices my beauty.” As we struggle with insecurity and self-acceptance we put ourselves “way-out”, often in very unfeminine ways, in attempt to find the security and acceptance we were created to experience. In a society that contempt’s femininity, we are bombarded with lies where our true dignity and desirability exist. We feel unsafe and vulnerable, so we manipulate and seduce and withdraw to bring a sense of safety and stability to our insecure world.
God’s desire and design for us as ladies is to be soft in submission, free in our friendships, and at home in our hearts. Knowing truth and relating honestly to our perceptions and complexity grants us freedom to be life-givers instead of life-takers. We will have courage to fight the battles and enjoy the victories that define us as females. We experience abundant living when we take our confused feelings, distorted thinking, and deceitful actions to the Word of God and find His truth that will set us free. We will welcome the interest and instruction of trusted people and peers. We will be woman at home in our hearts because God dwells there.
Give Life with Dignity.
Dignity is possessing confident composure and clear countenance. 1 Thessalonians 4:3&4 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…that every one of you should know how to possess her vessel.” There is nothing like a “woman at home” who has a smile on her face, a twinkle in her eye, kindness on her tongue, gentleness in her touch, and purpose in her step. 1 Timothy 2:9-11 “That women should adorn themselves modestly and appropriately and sensibly in seemly apparel; not with elaborate hair arrangement or gold or pearls or expensive clothing. But by doing good deeds as befits women who profess reverential fear for and devotion to God. Let a woman learn in quietness, in entire submissiveness. It gives a refreshing welcome to those we encounter as we are not driven to make my presence known. It is the humble awareness of how much God knows us and has entrusted the virtues of womanhood to bring Him glory.
There are two expressions that deny dignity: to strut and to shrivel. The strut is bold and brassy; and often what you will find on the street or homes where there are no boundaries; where flirting and fun is “what takes the day;” and there is a constant show-down of “sexual competition”…contempting of another’s figure or femininity. To shrivel and shrink is to fear to embrace and cherish our femininity; and most likely to be found in places where the defining and nurturing of sexuality and femininity is silent and uninformed. This creates a strong fear that any expression of our femininity is immodest and perverted. In both expressions we don’t understand true conviction of femininity; instead we experience condemnation of the dignity that God designed us to hold and display. Dignity has a steady forward gaze; it is not a nose in the air or a chin on the floor. True dignity is the awareness that God has lifted His countenance upon us and is giving us peace.
A nurturing woman is one who has the capacity to “host people in her heart.” This is to provide safety and encourage growth in the lives entrusted to her. Husbands are honored, children are safe, and friends are welcomed. Homemaking is an honor and our children find joy and confidence in developing skills. A woman who nurtures loves to sit at the feet of the “aged woman,” yet finds delight in the things that bless a child’s heart. Nurturing is not limited to the children we bear; it is providing safety and security for any life that is entrusted to us…school children, neighbors, elderly, etc. It is a high calling to bring rest to fears, kindness to quarrels, beauty to brokenness, forgiveness to faults, etc. In a world where children are neglected, elders are lonely, and much emptiness in the rest, we have a sacred privilege to cherish and care deeply for the hearts of others.
Nurture Femininity: The purity of the home is guarded by nurturing woman. At creation there was nothing defiled. At the fall, innocence was lost and every person since is born with a “loss of innocence,” both spiritually and sexually. As infants and children we are ignorant of this loss. In the years of adolescence there is a significant change from ignorance to consciousness. God honoring homes wisely protect and develop the “loss of innocence.” Yet in the healthiest nurturing there is a tremendous experience of awkwardness in this loss. In the safety of parents or trusted adults there is guidance and care given to this; and there are continual steps of exposure given until the child matures and continues to process these capacities on their own. This is God’s redemptive plan to safely lose innocence.
So what happens when innocence is not properly nurtured and lost? It’s too much for the mind and body to process and we don’t know where to go with the overwhelming stimuli. One remains embarrassed and self-conscious of their sexuality and does not have the safety and freedom to mature. This kind of loss creates incredible vulnerability for perverted concepts and relationships. If we are to provide safety in the loss of innocence today, we need to be very intentional in bringing awareness to children and our teenagers. We need not only to address the normal dynamics of sexuality, but also the perversions of our day. Be proactive; ask for wisdom, accountability, and cleansing of the mind as you nurture this loss.
In the wake of all the damage that is done through shame, contempt, and covers, we as godly woman today have the precious privilege to restore glory. We all have sinned and been sinned against. We all have been “glory thieves” and have had glory stolen from us. But a woman at home in her heart will not allow these things to destroy her. Scorn and scoffing, blame-shifting and bantering, with the desperate demand for things to survive will be guarded from her heart and home. If there has been glory stolen from her or her family in unhealthy ways, she will risk what it takes to have glory regained. She will find comfort and cleansing at the cross. In the depth of her being she will experience the glory that God designed for her.
As women at home in our hearts we “glory restorers.” We will put the glow of God’s glory into the lives of we daily encounter. Every time we speak an encouraging word, bless a burdened soul, pray those prayers we promised to pray, send that card, wave at the traffic, smile at the clerk, we are restoring God’s destroyed glory!! As we welcome our babies at birth, smile at our pre-schoolers, affirm our scholars, discipline in love, give boundaries for growth, apologize for our sin or imperfection, sort through confusion of our teenagers, release our adults, we are restoring glory!! What a high calling!! What a sacred trust!! What an everyday joy!! We don’t need to continue to face the foe with defeat and steel determination. We can bask in the glory of God and live it out redemptively in our homes and hearts!!
We can be women at home in our hearts
for God has promised He will give grace and glory;
Not one good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.